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National Park Service Urges Campers To “Plan Like a Park Ranger” This Summer

Published on July 5th, 2021 by Natalie Henley

view of Zion National Park

National Park Service Urges Campers To “Plan Like a Park Ranger” This Summer

There’s no doubt about it. With coronavirus restrictions easing up across the country, this will be a crowded summer for the National Park System. According to a National Park Service (NPS) press release, a total of 237 million people visited the parks in 2020, and the agency is bracing for a record number of visitors this year. Many parks are already experiencing these influxes,

“So far, in 2021, we have set monthly visitation records January through May,” a park ranger with Great Smoky Mountains National Park mentioned in an interview with Today.

While the NPS encourages folks to get out and enjoy the parks, the astronomical spike in day visitors and campers is cause for concern. Officials are expecting problems like overcrowded parking lots and trash buildup.

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“It’s gonna be a challenging year for all of our staff,” the park ranger at Great Smoky Mountains National Park said. “With this level of visitation, we simply can’t do it on our own. Each person coming to the Smokies has to take some responsibility for their trash and their behavior so that we can take care of this place they’re coming to enjoy.”

To combat inevitable issues, the NPS has taken a proactive approach with its new park service campaign called “Plan Like a Park Ranger.” The park ranger tips aim to help visitors and campers have the best park experiences possible by planning ahead, staying updated, and avoiding unexpected hassles.

What tips are included in the National Park Service initiative?

1.Have a plan…and a backup plan. Log onto and search for your park to find specifics on events, activities, and any updates on park operations.

2. Be patient with each other and us. Especially if you are planning to visit the more popular parks, allow you and your family more time to get to the destination.

3. Travel off the beaten path. With over 400 national parks across the country, there are plenty of incredible places to explore. National Parks Traveler Editor-in-Chief Kurt Repanshek details five such parks in the news brief below.

4. Reservations may be needed. Not all park campgrounds have a reservation system. NPS suggests, “Check the park website for details or visit”

5. Ask a ranger if you have any questions or need assistance. They are there to help.

Even more tips

6. Explore the new NPS app. The NPS app, not to be confused with RV LIFE Trip Wizard, helps travelers plan their national park visit or overnight stay. Both are recommended for easy trip planning.

7. Keep safety in the picture. The article Practice Safety In The National Parks And Beyond has many safety tips for day visitors and campers touring national parks.

8. Don’t pet the fluffy cows. Speaking of safety, always keep your distance from wild animals like fluffy cows (bison) and never feed the wildlife.

9. Leave only footprints. Pack out what you pack in and leave the spots you camped or picnicked in even better than what they looked like when you first arrived. Do your part to keep our national parks beautiful.

10. Ruffing it? This one applies to your furry family members. Follow park guidelines regarding pet access. Always keep them on a leash and pick up after them.

10 Tips on how to plan like a park ranger by the Ntional Park Service
Chart courtesy of the National Park Service.

For more information on the “Plan Like a Park Ranger” campaign, visit For all of your camping and trip planning needs, look no further than RV LIFE Campgrounds and RV LIFE Trip Wizard. RV LIFE Campgrounds is a trusted source of campground and RV park reviews offered by camping and RV enthusiasts just like you. With its accompanying RV LIFE App, RV LIFE Trip Wizard gets you to your camping destinations utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to your RV and travel preferences.

Continue reading: Avoid These 8 National Parks During Peak Season

1 thought on “National Park Service Urges Campers To “Plan Like a Park Ranger” This Summer”

  1. While I don’t doubt the increase in people wanting to go camping this summer, I am willing to bet that the lack of park personnel plays a major part in keeping campgrounds up to par. I have encountered campgrounds that have been unable to find hosts ( chalk that up to poor pay, long hours and a long list of chores, not to mention having to police rowdy/rude campers). It is hard to find a ranger as they seem to be spread pretty thin and lack of cell coverage in some places leave you unable to get help when you need it. Most campers follow the rules and are fine neighbors but it just takes one to ruin it for everyone.


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